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Drug charge earns 30 years

Nigerian national Ukachi Onyinye John
Nigerian national Ukachi Onyinye John, 38, is escorted though Phnom Penh Municipal Court by authorities yesterday. Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Drug charge earns 30 years

A Nigerian national alleged to have smuggled nearly 3 kilograms of methamphetamine through Phnom Penh International Airport was convicted yesterday following his arrest in June, according to court officials.

John Onyinye Ukachi, 38, was sentenced to 30 years in prison and fined 100 million riel [$25,000] by Phnom Penh Municipal Court for international drug trafficking and transport, in violation of Article 40 of the Kingdom’s anti-drug laws, said judge Chea Sok Heang.

Ukachi was arrested by anti-drug authorities on June 8, after flying from Nigeria through Singapore en route to Cambodia, according to Sok Heang, and tried by the court on December 20.

Following the arrest, 2.7 kilograms of methamphetamines hidden in the suspect’s luggage were confiscated by authorities, Sok Heang added.

“The convicted person has the right to appeal to the Court of Appeal within 30 days if he does not accept the court’s decision.”

The accused could not be reached for comment yesterday, but his defence lawyer, Ou Vuth, characterised the sentence against his client as extreme.

“My client does not accept the court’s decision because both his punishment and fine is too heavy. To find justice, he will file his appeal to the Appeal Court soon,” Vuth told the Post yesterday, adding that his client had been set up by a friend who had asked him to deliver the luggage to an unidentified man in Phnom Penh.

Major General Sok Chour, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior’s anti-drug department could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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